Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Online maps and the Cartograhic Society

Mary Spence, president of the British Cartographic Society, complains on the BBC that online maps are destroying the rich geography and history of Britain off the map.

Now, whilst I have the greatest respect for paper based maps (I actually really like them) I have to disagree with Mary Spence. Indeed, type into google maps 'Stonehenge', click on satellite view and wow there are the stones, surrounding countryside and a very clear idea of how far your b&b is from the stones. With road maps on top, it couldn't be better and yes I get a good idea of the landscape.

As for saying that online maps have little use in other areas, I would again disagree and go so far to say that mapping in the online property industry is now an essential element of the search process. Indeed, online maps, offer options to view: council tax bands, tube stations, schools, pubs, etc. You can draw an area from within which to search. How would you do this on a paper map? In days of old we would look at a paper map, draw a big circle around the area of our choice and then look online for estate agents. We would then try and guess where the properties were situated. Online maps provide a real, useful benefit to the user.

There are a 101 other benefits in many other industries and to say online maps are of no use is a rather negative, archaic viewpoint. I love paper maps/atlases and don't want to see them disappear and yes online maps have probably had a significant effect on their business, but to say they are wiping out geography and history of the UK is a little strong.

Anyway, if you ever have to go to the Cartographic Society for a meeting, you may have to consult your paper map as their contact us section has no online map!

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